Asia Minute: South Korea Plans COVID Tests for Pets

Feb 9, 2021

The continuing pandemic has touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people around the world — both directly and indirectly. Much less is known about its impact on animals. One capital city in the Asia Pacific is taking a step to learn more.

 

The city of Seoul will begin testing some pets for COVID-19.

A top health official in the South Korean capital says tests will be available for dogs and cats whose owners have tested positive for the virus, but only if the animals are showing symptoms.

Park Yoo-mi told reporters Monday teams will go to the homes of quarantined human patients to test the pets.

A positive test will result in a 14-day quarantine for the animal. If the human in the household is also positive, the pet will have to go to a kennel.

The website of the CDC says the risk of animals spreading COVID-19 to people “is considered to be low,” although “it appears that it can spread from people to animals in some situations.”

Korea’s Disease Control and Prevention Agency reported the first case of an animal infection in the country about three weeks ago — when a pet cat tested positive.

While house pets are popular in South Korea, they are nowhere near as common as in the United States.

According to the specialty publication Petfood Industry Magazine, nearly a third of all households in South Korea have a pet — most commonly a dog or a cat. The magazine found that in the United States, 70% of households have at least one pet.